Excerpt: ...nigh now, when matters should begin to develop. I followed the chimes from the clock of some church nearby-I have never learnt its name; and was conscious of a thrill of excitement when they warned me that the hour was actually arrived.... A strange figure appeared noiselessly, from I knew not where, and stood fully within view upon ...
Excerpt: ...nigh now, when matters should begin to develop. I followed the chimes from the clock of some church nearby-I have never learnt its name; and was conscious of a thrill of excitement when they warned me that the hour was actually arrived.... A strange figure appeared noiselessly, from I knew not where, and stood fully within view upon the bridge crossing the cutting, peering to right and left, in an attitude of listening. It was the figure of a bedraggled old woman, gray-haired, and carrying a large bundle tied up in what appeared to be a red shawl. Of her face I could see little, since it was shaded by the brim of her black bonnet, but she rested her bundle upon the low wall of the bridge, and to my intense surprise, sat down upon it! She evidently intended to remain there. I drew back further into the darkness; for the presence of this singular old woman at such a place, and at that hour, could not well be accidental. I was convinced that the first actor in the drama had already taken the stage. Whether I was mistaken or not must shortly appear. Crisp footsteps sounded upon the roadway; distantly, and from my left. Nearer they approached and nearer. I saw the old woman, in the shadow of the wall, glance once rapidly in the direction of the approaching pedestrian. For some occult reason, the chorus of the rats was stilled. Only that firm and regular tread broke the intimate silence of the dreary spot. Now the pedestrian came within my range of sight. It was Nayland Smith! He wore a long tweed overcoat with which I was familiar, and a soft felt hat, the brim pulled down all around in a fashion characteristic of him, and probably acquired during the years spent beneath the merciless sun of Burma. He carried a heavy walking-cane which I knew to be a formidable weapon that he could wield to good effect. But, despite the stillness about me, a stillness which had reigned uninterruptedly (save for the danse macabre of the rats) since the coming of dusk, ..
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